Through the Bible – Day 264

Bible text(s)

The search for meaning in life

Nothing makes sense

1When the son of David was king in Jerusalem, he was known to be very wise, and he said:

2Nothing makes sense!

Everything is nonsense.

I have seen it all—

nothing makes sense!

3What is there to show

for all our hard work

here on this earth?

4People come, and people go,

but still the world

never changes.

5The sun comes up,

the sun goes down;

it hurries right back

to where it started from.

6The wind blows south,

the wind blows north;

round and round it blows

over and over again.

7All rivers empty into the sea,

but it never spills over;

one by one the rivers return

to their source.

8All of life is far more boring

than words could ever say.

Our eyes and our ears

are never satisfied

with what we see and hear.

9Everything that happens

has happened before;

nothing is new,

nothing under the sun.

10Someone might say,

“Here is something new!”

But it happened before,

long before we were born.

11No one who lived in the past

is remembered any more,

and everyone yet to be born

will be forgotten too.

It is senseless to be wise

12I said these things when I lived in Jerusalem as king of Israel. 13With all my wisdom I tried to understand everything that happens here on earth. And God has made this so hard for us humans to do. 14I have seen it all, and everything is just as senseless as chasing the wind.

15If something is crooked,

it can't be made straight;

if something isn't there,

it can't be counted.

16I said to myself, “You are by far the wisest person who has ever lived in Jerusalem. You are eager to learn, and you have learnt a lot.” 17Then I decided to find out all I could about wisdom and foolishness. Soon I realized that this too was as senseless as chasing the wind.

18The more you know,

the more it hurts;

the more you understand,

the more you suffer.

It is senseless to be selfish

1I said to myself, “Have fun and enjoy yourself!” But this didn't make sense. 2Laughing and having fun is mad. What good does it do? 3I wanted to find out what was best for us during the short time we have on this earth. So I decided to make myself happy with wine and find out what it means to be foolish, without really being foolish myself.

4I did some great things. I built houses and planted vineyards. 5I had flower gardens and orchards full of fruit trees. 6And I had pools where I could get water for the trees. 7I owned slaves, and their sons and daughters became my slaves. I had more sheep and goats than anyone who had ever lived in Jerusalem. 8Foreign rulers brought me silver, gold, and precious treasures. Men and women sang for me, and I had many wives who gave me great pleasure.

9I was the most famous person who had ever lived in Jerusalem, and I was very wise. 10I got whatever I wanted and did whatever made me happy. But most of all, I enjoyed my work. 11Then I thought about everything I had done, including the hard work, and it was simply chasing the wind. Nothing on earth is worth the trouble.

Wisdom makes sense

12I asked myself, “What can the next king do that I haven't done?” Then I decided to compare wisdom with foolishness and stupidity. 13And I discovered that wisdom is better than foolishness, just as light is better than darkness. 14Wisdom is like having two good eyes; foolishness leaves you in the dark. But wise or foolish, we all end up the same.

15Finally, I said to myself, “Being wise got me nowhere! The same thing will happen to me that happens to fools. Nothing makes sense. 16Wise or foolish, we all die and are soon forgotten.” 17This made me hate life. Everything we do is painful; it's just as senseless as chasing the wind.

18Suddenly I realized that others would some day get everything I had worked so hard for, then I started hating it all. 19Who knows if those people will be sensible or stupid? Either way, they will own everything I have earned by hard work and wisdom. It doesn't make sense.

20I thought about all my hard work, and I felt depressed. 21When we use our wisdom, knowledge, and skill to get what we own, why do we have to leave it to someone who didn't work for it? This is senseless and wrong. 22What do we really gain from all our hard work? 23Our bodies ache during the day, and work is torture. Then at night our thoughts are troubled. It just doesn't make sense.

24The best thing we can do is to enjoy eating, drinking, and working. I believe these are God's gifts to us, 25and no one enjoys eating and living more than I do. 26If we please God, he will make us wise, understanding, and happy. But if we sin, God will make us struggle for a living, then he will give all we own to someone who pleases him. This makes no more sense than chasing the wind.

Everything has its time

1Everything on earth

has its own time

and its own season.

2There is a time

for birth and death,

planting and reaping,

3for killing and healing,

destroying and building,

4for crying and laughing,

weeping and dancing,

5for throwing stones

and gathering stones,

embracing and parting.

6There is a time

for finding and losing,

keeping and giving,

7for tearing and sewing,

listening and speaking.

8There is also a time

for love and hate,

for war and peace.

Life isn't always fair, so live wisely

What God has given us to do

9What do we gain by all our hard work? 10I have seen what difficult things God demands of us. 11God makes everything happen at the right time. Yet none of us can ever fully understand all he has done, and he puts questions in our minds about the past and the future. 12I know the best thing we can do is always to enjoy life, 13because God's gift to us is the happiness we get from our food and drink and from the work we do. 14Everything God has done will last for ever; nothing he does can ever be changed. God has done all this, so that we will worship him.

15Everything that happens

has happened before,

and all that will be

has already been—

God does everything

over and over again.

The future is known only to God

16Everywhere on earth I saw violence and injustice instead of fairness and justice. 17So I told myself that God has set a time and a place for everything. He will judge everyone, both the wicked and the good. 18I know that God is testing us to show us that we are merely animals. 19Like animals we breathe and die, and we are no better off than they are. It just doesn't make sense. 20All living creatures go to the same place. We are made from earth, and we return to the earth. 21Who really knows if our spirits go up and the spirits of animals go down into the earth? 22We were meant to enjoy our work, and that's the best thing we can do. We can never know the future.

1I looked again and saw people being ill-treated everywhere on earth. They were crying, but no one was there to offer comfort, and those who ill-treated them were powerful. 2I said to myself, “The dead are better off than the living. 3But those who have never been born are better off than anyone else, because they have never seen the terrible things that happen on this earth.”

4Then I realized that we work and do wonderful things just because we are jealous of others. This makes no more sense than chasing the wind.

5Fools will fold their hands

and starve to death.

6Yet a very little food

eaten in peace

is better than twice as much

earned from overwork

and chasing the wind.

7Once again I saw that nothing on earth makes sense. 8For example, some people don't have friends or family. But they are never satisfied with what they own, and they never stop working to get more. They should ask themselves, “Why am I always working to have more? Who will get what I leave behind?” What a senseless and miserable life!

It is better to have a friend

9You are better off having a friend than being all alone, because then you will get more enjoyment out of what you earn. 10If you fall, your friend can help you up. But if you fall without having a friend nearby, you are really in trouble. 11If you sleep alone, you won't have anyone to keep you warm on a cold night. 12Someone might be able to beat up one of you, but not both of you. As the saying goes, “A rope made from three strands of cord is hard to break.”

13You may be poor and young. But if you are wise, you are better off than a foolish old king who won't listen to advice. 14Even if you were not born into the royal family and have been a prisoner and poor, you can still be king. 15I once saw everyone in the world follow a young leader who came to power after the king was gone. 16His followers could not even be counted. But years from now, no one will praise him—this makes no more sense than chasing the wind.

Ecclesiastes 1:1-4:16CEVOpen in Bible reader

Slaves and children

21Does the Law disagree with God's promises? No, it doesn't! If any law could give life to us, we could become acceptable to God by obeying that law. 22But the Scriptures say that sin controls everyone, so that God's promises will be for anyone who has faith in Jesus Christ.

23The Law controlled us and kept us under its power until the time came when we would have faith. 24In fact, the Law was our teacher. It was supposed to teach us until we had faith and were acceptable to God. 25But once a person has learnt to have faith, there is no more need to have the Law as a teacher.

26All of you are God's children because of your faith in Christ Jesus. 27And when you were baptized, it was as though you had put on Christ in the same way you put on new clothes. 28Faith in Christ Jesus is what makes each of you equal with each other, whether you are a Jew or a Greek, a slave or a free person, a man or a woman. 29So if you belong to Christ, you are now part of Abraham's family, and you will be given what God has promised.

1Children who are under age are no better off than slaves, even though everything their parents own will some day be theirs. 2This is because children are placed in the care of guardians and teachers until the time their parents have set. 3That is how it was with us. We were like children ruled by the powers of this world.

4But when the time was right, God sent his Son, and a woman gave birth to him. His Son obeyed the Law, 5so he could set us free from the Law, and we could become God's children. 6Now that we are his children, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts. And his Spirit tells us that God is our Father. 7You are no longer slaves. You are God's children, and you will be given what he has promised.

Paul's concern for the Galatians

8Before you knew God, you were slaves of gods that are not real. 9But now you know God, or better still, God knows you. How can you turn back and become the slaves of those weak and pitiful powers? 10You even celebrate certain days, months, seasons, and years. 11I am afraid I have wasted my time working with you.

12My friends, I beg you to be like me, just as I once tried to be like you. Did you ill-treat me 13when I first preached to you? No you didn't, even though you knew I had come there because I was sick. 14My illness must have caused you some trouble, but you didn't hate me or turn me away because of it. You welcomed me as though I were one of God's angels or even Christ Jesus himself. 15Where is that good feeling now? I am sure that if it had been possible, you would have taken out your own eyes and given them to me. 16Am I now your enemy, just because I told you the truth?

17Those people may be paying you a lot of attention, but it isn't for your good. They only want to keep you away from me, so you will pay them a lot of attention. 18It is always good to give your attention to something worthwhile, even when I am not with you. 19My children, I am in terrible pain until Christ may be seen living in you. 20I wish I were with you now. Then I would not have to talk this way. You really have me puzzled.

Galatians 3:21-4:20CEVOpen in Bible reader
Canadian Bible Societyv.4.21.8
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